Gambar halaman

ereigns, and propositions have been in the other New England States.*

Some other amendments which were adopted will be noticed in the next chapter.


66 The

Amendment of the 4th section in the Bill of Rights, and of the

16th section in the Frame of Government.-- The Assembly denied the right of the Council to originate bills. They pass suspended bills without sending them to the Governor and Council. — Vermont acceded to the Union.-Council of Censors elected at the end of the second Septenary.They proposed amendments and called a Convention.Resignation and death of Gov. Chittenden.

Among the amendments which were adopted by the Convention, was the addition of the following section to the Constitution : legislative, executive, and judiciary departments shall be kept separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the other.” But, it seems, the Council has not drawn a very clear line of distinction between legislative and judiciary powers, for they say,

in their address to the people, “ It is the opinion of this Council that the General Assembly, in all cases where they have vacated judgments, recovered in dụe course of law, except when the particular circumstances of the case evidently made it necessary to grant a new trial, have exercised a power not delegated or intended to be delegated to them by the Constitution.” This served to continue the practice of granting new · trials by the Legislature, and they exercised the power for a number of years.

*See Appendix, No. 3.

But as the people gradually obtained a more correct knowledge of the principles of the government, the Constitution was raised to the rank of the Supreme law of the State, and being so regarded by the Legislature, our legislation was greatly improved, and the practice of granting new trials was abandoned.

When the Council came to the 4th section in the Bill of Rights, they amended it by inserting the words “ by their legal representatives,” making it read as follows : “ That the people, by their legal representatives, have the sole, exclusive, and inherent right of governing and regulating the internal policy of the same.

The rights, the sovereign rights of the people were often repeated in the Constitution, and the Council observed that many of the people were disposed to consider themselves as individual sovto protect themselves in the enjoyment of thair rights, without recourse to the laws; and they made the amendment to remind them that the the people had exercised their sovereignty in forming their Constitution of civil government, by which they had made themselves, one and all, subjects of that government, and that they must continue subject to it, until they should again call their primitive sovereignty into exercise, and alter or abolish the Constitution.

Were the same subject now before a Council, they would address themselves to the Legislature, and remind them that they were vested with the whole legislative power of the State ; that they cannot delegate their power, nor surrender it to the people who conferred it; that the people had, by the Constitution which they had adopted, entered into a solemn compact by which each individual was laid under a legal and moral obligation to obey all the laws which should be passed by the Legislature, which they had constituted, but no one was under any obligation to obey any law which should be passed by the people as in a pure democracy. When we formed a representative democracy, we considered we had made an improvement upon all civil governments which had ever been instituted. A pure democracy had ever been destitute of every property of a good government. The laws were ever in a ruinous state of fluctuation, and it utterly failed of protecting the people in the enjoyment of their rights. By instituting a representative democracy, we hoped to avoid all these evils, but as our government is founded on the democratic principle, unchecked by any other, that principle is gaining strength, and the tendency of the government is towards a pure democracy. Both political parties have long since discovered this, and it is amusing to witness their struggles in the race for popularity -both make use of democracy as a condiment, with which they season every political dish, and democratic is considered a necessary prefix to every party name. The whigs call themselves democratic whigs, and the republicans call themselves democratic republicans. The next step will be, that one of the parties, no one can tell which, will attempt to shoot ahead of their opponents by assuming the name of democratic democrats.

Whether this tendency of our government toward a pure democracy will be for evil or for good, we shall be taught by experience. If it proves injurious, as we have reason to fear it may, the experience and intelligence of the people will induce them to retrace their steps, and the government will be improved and perpetuated. It is the natural government of civilized man, and as: nature ever makes efforts to cure all diseases in the human body, she will be sure to make efforts to heal all wounds in the body politic; and she will effect a cure, if not prevented by quackery, as she often is, when making efforts to cure diseases in the human body.

The Convention of 1786 made but one other amendment that deserves particular attention. The section amended is the 16th section in the Constitution, as published in the revised laws, and is in the following words:

" To the end that laws, before they are enacted, may be more maturely considered, and the inconvenience of hasty determinations as much as possible prevented, all bills which originate in the Assembly, shall be laid before the Governor and Council, for their revision, and concurrence or proposals of amendment; who'shall return the same to the Assembly, with their proposals of amendment (if any) in writing; and if the same are not agreed to by the Assembly, it shall be in the power of the Governor and Council to suspend the passing of such bills until the next session of the Legislature. Provided, that if the Governor

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »